With the High Holidays right around the corner, J’Burgh of Hillel is offering a unique opportunity for young adults who have nowhere to celebrate Rosh Hashana.
J’Burgh Director David Katz is in charge of this first-year initiative to help all Jewish residents of the city, especially the new ones, become more familiar and comfortable living in Pittsburgh.
“All of the local synagogues are offering free admission to any student who has a student ID,” said Katz, emphasizing that one does not have to be a member of the synagogue if he or she has a valid student ID.
J’Burgh, with the support of Hillel Jewish University Center and Shalom Pittsburgh, is an organization that exists to help the young singles and graduate students in the Jewish Pittsburgh community.
“We want to provide the young adults with the means to celebrate the High Holidays as a community together.”
J’Burgh is organizing various groups to attend the synagogues of their choice with a site captain in each synagogue to help out those who seek assistance.
“There will be someone in each synagogue, serving as a point person, to just be there like a welcoming committee.”
As part of the experience, J’Burgh will provide the list of participants for Rosh Hashana services, to see if the synagogues can accommodate Jewish students and young adults that would also like to have a meal with one of the many Jewish families in the community.
Katie Whitlatch, 27, of Forest Hills is one of the site captains at the different synagogues. Katie and her husband, Randy, have been members of the Tree of Life Congregation for the past three years.
“Having this available, it’s very comforting that other people are there,” said Whitlatch, referring to the new graduate students not familiar with Pittsburgh or aware of the Jewish community in the city.
“I think there are large groups of people that come to these different synagogues,” she said. “That really will show synagogues that there is a young community out there that’s not being reached.”
“There’s a whole community that is willing to welcome them,” Whitlatch said.
“The main thing is that we don’t want young adults sitting alone in a synagogue during services,” Katz said. “We want to try and find a way to group them, to put them together so they can sit with people their own age, and feel welcomed into the Pittsburgh Jewish community.”
Katz says this is a special occasion that will affect the entire Jewish community in Pittsburgh.
“This is a great opportunity for the Pittsburgh Jewish community to welcome these new members into the community and into their synagogues and to highlight all the wonderful things we have to offer here in Pittsburgh.”
Any Jewish graduate student or young professional who is new to the Pittsburgh area and interested in attending a High Holiday service within our community should contact David Katz, director of J’Burgh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Alon Melamed can be reached at email@example.com.)